Anti-fascist trade unionist arrested in Oldham

Submitted by Janine on Mon, 21/02/2005 - 10:14.

Hackney TUC is supporting Oldham Trades Council in its objection to this outrageous arrest.

Press release from Oldham Trades Council

The British National Party (BNP) is a fascist party, an ally of the NPD in Germany and the Front National in France. Its leader, Nick Griffin, has spoken alongside politicians from both these organisations and has represented the BNP at NPD events in Germany.

The BNP is led by Nick Griffin, who joined the party in 1995. He began to edit The Rune, an anti-Semitic quarterly and announced that the BNP should prioritise denying the Holocaust to schoolchildren. Griffin then earned a two-year suspended prison sentence for his sick views on the Holocaust. In 1998, he was found guilty, at Harrow Crown Court, of inciting race hatred by denying that the Holocaust took place.

This year, in the northern working-class town of Oldham, two notorious BNP activists, Mick Treacy and Anita Corbett, turned up at the town’s official Holocaust Memorial Day ceremony. In a calculated insult, these members of a nazi, Holocaust-denying, party laid a wreath.

This was then covered up by another wreath laid by Martin Gleeson, secretary of Oldham Trades Council and a prominent anti-racist campaigner in the town. The BNP complained that Martin Gleeson, in laying the Trades Council’s wreath, had damaged their flowers.

Mr Gleeson’s supporters say that the presence of the BNP and the local police and council’s failure to exclude them outraged those present, including several representatives of the town’s Jewish community.

Displaying total contempt for the day’s proceedings, the BNP ignored the agreed protocol for the ceremony and interrupted a speech by black Christian minister the Rev. Donnie Meyer to lay their wreath ahead of other organisations and individuals present.

Mr Gleeson was personally arrested by Chief Superintendent Keith Bentley, the most senior police officer in Oldham. He was held for 7 hours at Oldham police station and charged under the Criminal Damage Act 1971 s.1(1) and s.4 with criminal damage to the BNP wreath, valued at GBP 20.

He later said “I acted because I found the BNP wreath hypocritical and hurtful both to myself and to my friends present at the ceremony. I intended only to obscure it from public view.”

Oldham is covered by Greater Manchester Police, the subject of the acclaimed BBC investigative documentary ‘The Secret Policeman’ which highlighted widespread racism within the force.

Protests to Greater Manchester police chief Michael Todd at

Messages of solidarity to Oldham Trades Council at

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